That thing called “chocolate”

29 04 2009

Boyfriend Replacement Chocolate Bar

All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt! (Charles Schulz)

This holds very true for me.  So while waiting for my Romeo to come along, I might as well have a bar or a piece of dark chocolate and a good massage.  These are sort of my instant picker-uppers whenever I’m exhausted or just not in a good mood.  I would like to dwell more on chocolates in this writing, though.  Apparently, many are already aware that chocolate contains some chemicals that really improve one’s mood.

Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a naturally occurring amino-acid which some consider to have aphrodisiacal effects and is even said to be able to “cure” hangovers. Phenylethylamine is a substance which is released naturally in the human body when you’re in love. Other stimulants present in chocolate are dopamine and serotonin, which alleviate pain and encourage a good mood. Serotonin produces feelings of pleasure in a similar way to sunlight. Chocolate also contains theobromine, a chemical stimulant frequently confused with caffeine, but has very different effects on the human body. It is a mild, lasting stimulant with a mood improving effect. Its presence is one of the causes for chocolate’s mood-elevating effects.

According to the web, phenylethylamine or PEA is called the “love chemical” or “love drug”.  Maybe this is one reason why lately I have this very strong craving for chocolates – dark chocolates.  I must be longing for that “loving” feeling (hahaha). Honestly, feasting on a bar of really good dark chocolate gives me that warm and relaxed feeling, that unique pleasure especially the moment it slowly melts in your mouth. Ahhh!  Anyone wanna argue ?

I have several brands, from bar to truffles, in the fridge waiting to be gorged on.  The good thing about dark chocolate is its higher cocoa content compared with other variants which means more flavonoids or antioxidants.  But dark chocolate is still chocolate which is a high-calorie and high-fat food, thus, must be taken in moderation.  Based on studies, a 100-gram or 3.5-ounce bar of dark chocolate a day is beneficial.  Yeah, you read it right, that’s “a day”.  Ok, gotta grab a bar now….  More about chocolates next time.





How to enjoy the benefits of green tea

27 04 2009

Now everyone seems to love drinking green tea due to the many benefits we derive from it but not everyone knows that we may not be getting the full benefit due to improper brewing.  Ideally, the tea must be steeped for 2 to 3 minutes only using water previously boiled (let the boiling water stand for a minute before pouring into your teacup).  Brew your tea fresh and flavor it with any freshly squeezed citrus fruit like lemon, lime or orange co’z Vitamin C helps in the absorption by increasing the acidity in the intestine. 

Enjoy your green tea!





Go Natural

24 04 2009

It’s great to know that people are becoming aware of the many toxic and harmful synthetic ingredients in our toiletries and cosmetics.  Yes, a few of my friends are now starting to use natural hair care products like Nature’s Gate Organics.  Although this brand is said to still use the carcinogenic contaminant 1,4-dioxane (Refer to Item No. 46 at http://bestorganicandnaturalskincare.com/page/2), I think we’re still better off using it than the conventional and traditional brands with ingredients that cause cancer, are skin irritants, disturb our hormone balance or have never been fully tested for safety.

My favorite natural product brand is Burt’s Bees which is a little more expensive than the other brands I’ve used like Jason Pure, Natural and Organic, Nature’s Gate Organics and Aveeno.

USDA Organic and Natural Product Certification

Those who want to completely shift to truly organic toiletries and cosmetics should look for the organic label i.e. USDA Certified Organic and the natural product seal which certifies compliance with the Natural Products Association Standard for Personal Care Products.  Unfortunately and sadly, we can’t still find local products that are natural and organic although we have this Natural Products Society of the Philippines, a non-stock, non-profit organization established in 1996 whose members are actively involved in natural products research.

So aside from Nature’s Gate hair care products, my friends are also getting interested in mineral make-up after showing them a brochure of the brand I started using just recently.  They are now excited to receive their orders which are arriving in 3 to 4 days.

Burt’s Bees is available at Beauty Bar while Nature’s Gate and Jason are available at Healthy Options.

Related post: Toiletries: Killing us softly?





Raw Food for Aspiring Weight Losers?

23 04 2009

When we talk about raw food, we don’t just refer to fresh fruit plates and vegetable salads.  Aside from uncooked produce, sprouts, nuts and seeds are usually added to complete any raw food recipe. 

When I prepared my first green smoothie, I knew right then and there that the taste will be unimaginable.  It had a strong peculiar taste arising from the combined celery and parsley.  I’ve prepared several blends from the various recipes I’ve gathered from the net and also invented fusions based on the basic guides and rules in raw food combination, some of which I’ve enjoyed the tastes and some, not so much. After about 3 weeks of having a glass of smoothie on weekdays and two glasses on weekends, I notice a big improvement in my tummy area, which I liked but not in other parts of my body (hahaha).  So I thought, it’s not really advisable for me to skip my regular meals twice a day (even on weekends only) co’z I already have a slim figure.  I consulted Cheloy Ignacio (who is still in the US) thru her site on my concerns and she sent me this email on March 25:  

Hi,

Just take (care) the smoothie either am or pm.  Im still in the states and probably be home by end of this year.

Have a rawsome day! 

Cheloy 

Just a piece of advice for those aspiring to lose some weight the healthier way and  without that haggard look, check out Cheloy Ignacio’s Rawfood Philippines

Cherie Lou Ignacio (formerly Muhlach) is a certified raw food chef who took a course under the famous healthy lifestyle expert, Alissa Cohen in Massachusetts.





My First Smoothie for the Week

22 04 2009

Green Smoothie 

I had not touched the spinach that my mother purchased for me last weekend.  I was quite not in the mood.  I remember I concocted a smoothie only once last week and never during the long holidays despite the abundance of fruits and greens in our fridge. 

But earlier before I had my dinner, I decided to make one with grapes, kiwi, spinach and ground flaxseeds.   As always, it makes me feel healthier to have a glass of any smoothie recipe because it reduces my intake of cooked food especially carbohydrates.   There’s only one thing that I don’t appreciate in smoothies though – I’m losing weight fast.





Lindor: Another chocolate must-try

22 04 2009

Went to Landmark Makati a few weeks ago to purchase some parsley, celery and strawberries for my smoothies for I find the fruits and veggies in this supermarket a lot fresher than in SM and even Rustans.  I was on my way to line up at the counter when I passed by this condola rack containing chocolates of the Swiss chocolate maker, Lindt.  I already got myself the Excellence Orange Intense which is a dark chocolate variant with orange pieces but after checking out the rest of the shelf, I saw the Lindor truffles.  It was my first time to see Lindor in the supermarket so instead of getting the Excellence bar, I chose the pack of Lindor.  My first palate experience of Lindor happened at the same time I had Truffettes de France – during my brother’s first return to Manila in 2003.  

Lindor Truffles (200 grams)

The 200-gram pack contained 4 truffle flavors – dark, milk, white chocolate and hazelnut.   These chocolate balls are prepared with an outer shell and super melting fillings in either silky dark chocolate, smooth milk or white chocolates, or a delicious combination of milk chocolate and hazelnuts.  I really enjoy the smooth texture as it slowly melts in your mouth.  Ahhh, tastes so heavenly!

Lindor comes in 16 different flavors.  I haven’t yet tried dark orange, stracciatella, peanut butter, extra dark, raspberry,  dark choco peppermint and the limited edition milk with white.





Early to bed, early to rise

20 04 2009

Cardiovascular

Are you guilty of very late night sleep like me?  I’m referring to past midnight bedtime.  Doing it on a regular basis imposes a great toll on the health of our arteries, heart and the entire cardiovascular system.  So even if we try to compensate by getting adequate hours of sleep after midnight, the risk is still there.

… a healthy sleep habit is not only getting enough sleep each night, but making sure bedtime is early enough. In fact, the latter practice seems to count more. Based on the Japanese study, men who went to bed before midnight had significantly less arterial stiffening – a benefit which may help delay the atherosclerosis process. When the arteries stiffen, they become hardened which prevents them from opening up or dilating to improve the circulation

“In our modern society, we suffer from a lot of stress, both physically and mentally,” Dr. Misao said. “A healthy lifestyle that focuses on diet and exercise is essential, but I believe that we have to add good quality sleep to this list, as well,” he added.

Now, let’s start getting to bed early.  Experts say that the best sleeping schedule is from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Not only does it provide our system enough time to prepare itself for regeneration (The repair work begins at about 2:00 a.m. and the body must be prepared to receive these benefits through deep sleep.), it helps us get up early.  Remember the old saying “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”?